Seventy five years after forklifts first revolutionised the way goods were moved, today’s top of the range trucks are high-performing, smart, sophisticated machines, and the stream of innovation continues.

One of the leading innovators, STILL recently flew our Commercial Director Rob Hollows to Hamburg for the unveiling of the bestselling RX 60-25/35 series of counterbalance trucks, aimed at food and drink companies, manufacturing industries and logistics operations. As our report reveals, the emission-free e-trucks set new standards in the 2.5 to 3.5-ton weight class, backed with record-breaking acceleration, a 13 mph top driving speed and improved lift rates. The smart, ergonomically designed cab is complemented by the wide choice of operating options. Individual trucks can be monitored with STILL’s FleetManager and STILL’s neXXt fleet online portal, tracking incidents and reducing maintenance costs.

With environmental impact an increasing concern, Mitsubishi’s Mitsubishi ES FG15-35N range are the first LPG forklifts to meet the Euro Stage V super-low emission requirements. The ES FG15-35N models are not only the cleanest running IC engine trucks in their class, but also the most fuel efficient, setting high standards for their carbon footprint while enabling operators to achieve maximum productivity.

As warehouse space becomes increasingly scarce, space-saving solutions grow in importance. Typical counterbalance trucks need a little more than 50 percent of the floor space to manoeuvre, making narrow-aisle trucks or higher rack warehouses the most cost-effective solution when space is tight. Hyster’s space-saving logistics solutions include the use of narrow aisle trucks in semi-automated high-bay warehouses. The Hyster VNA and high lift order pickers used in supermarkets and retail stores are particularly well-suited for transporting and storing loads in narrow aisles.

Forklift battery technology continues to progress too. ECOBAT Industrial has supplemented its already considerable range with the introduction of Lucas copper stretch metal (CSM) batteries with up to 15% lower internal resistance than standard lead-acid batteries and able to recharge in four hours. Stemming from submarine and torpedo batteries, ECOBAT say Lucas CSM offers an affordable alternative to lithium-ion.

As AGVs and Robots increasingly work alongside driver-operated forklifts in busy warehouses, human error means accidents are increasingly likely. ELOKON’s ELOshield proximity detection systems create configurable protection zones around warehouse trucks, which can trigger acoustic, visual or vibration warnings within milliseconds and intervene to slow down vehicle speeds.

Finally, developing and building fork trucks requires a good pool of talented and qualified people. As Combilift has doubled in size over the past five years, it has needed to fill vacancies for skilled technicians, design engineers, logistics and supply chain specialists and those with mechanical and electrical mechatronics skills. Working with the Monaghan Institute Combilift has initiated a Traineeship in Engineering course and developed the OEM Engineering Apprenticeship, ensuring the expertise to design innovative products that enhance safety and continue to raise the bar.

Bill Redmond

Features Editor

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